Writings from the intersection of law enforcement and the Internet

Have A Friend

This week I spoke to a group of older adults at the local senior to discuss the current fraud schemes that target senior citizens and how they can avoid victimization. The last question of the day was, “what is the one thing anyone can do to help protect themselves from online fraud?” Inevitably, the same question is asked when I speak to younger adults about the responsible use of technology and avoiding victimization. Although the schemes come in different flavors, members of both age groups end up as victims for two primary reasons: lack of experience and a failure to apply sound reasoning.

Everyone needs a trusted counselor in their life. Someone other than a person that lives in the same house. I give the example that my wife and I have been together for so long that we generally see the world through the same lens. While we have different views on my cars, the value of good bourbon, or who should empty the dishwasher, we are absolutely in sync on the majority of important topics. I'm certain we would give near exact answers If you surveyed us on finances, politics, or raising children. This is where fraud victims go astray so many times. They seek advice about a questionable financial transaction from a spouse or someone else they spend the majority of their time with. The chances are this person will see the problem through lenses shaped by similar lived experiences. And they are probably just as inexperienced with modern technology and how it is used to facilitate fraud.

Talking to a trusted person who doesn't live in your house and has a different worldview is one of the best ways to prevent financial victimization. In many cases, older adults fear seeking advice from grown children as they don't want to appear vulnerable or incapable of taking care of themselves. Alternatively, they should speak with a trusted neighbor, a life-long friend, someone at the senior center, or even call the local police.

Most of the current fraud schemes require the victim to make hasty decisions. Inexperience, lack of information, and FEAR are what the fraudsters prey upon. Slow the game down to get a better view and allow time to consider alternative options. Evaluate the issue and what you're being asked to do. Seeking counsel from a trusted person who sees the world through a different viewfinder usually reveals that the offer really is too good to be true.